Earth is a very volcanically active place, but the most active in the solar system is Jupiter’s moon Io. But why does it have so many volcanoes?

Io has tons of volcanoes. Plumes of sulfur spew upward as high as 190 miles (300 kilometers). They are so large that even Hubble Space Telescope can see them from Earth.

Io is slightly larger than Earth’s moon and has over 400 active volcanoes. Its volcanic activity was discovered in 1979 by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft.

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The reason why so many volcanoes cover Io’s surface is that the strong gravitational pulls of Jupiter on one side and the large moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto on the other heat up the moon. This gravitational tugging stretches and bends Io causing it to heat up. The heat creates so much pressure that hot gases and other materials are ejected at Io’s surface.

Since Io is continuously erupting, sulfur lava flows new and old cover its surface, giving it a very colorful appearance.

Io’s volcanoes continually resurface the moon, so that any impact craters have disappeared.

The lava flows can reach 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1650 Celsius) in temperature, although the surface temperature on average is -202 degrees F (-130 C). This is because Io has virtually no atmosphere to trap heat, much like our moon.

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